If you think stress is all over the place, you are right! Globally, 3 out of 5 doctor visits are for stress related problems. What’s more – work related stress tops the list among all causes and costs employers a staggering USD 300 billion in losses per year. Any kind of negative stress increases the level of cortisol in the body which is responsible for fat breakage and weight gain. While emotional overeating is a well known outcome of stress, there’s some good news too as eating right is apparently a great stress management strategy.
Here’s a list of 15 super foods that help beat stress and that you should be loading on your plate right away!
#1 Avocado: Packed with Vitamin B, known for its stress relieving properties, apart from 20 other Vitamins and minerals such as Potassium, Folate, and Lutein, Avocado is a super food par excellence. What’s more – it’s also loaded with fiber, is low on sugar content, and a rich source of monounsaturated fat – the kind that lowers bad cholesterol and prevents heart diseases.
#2 Oatmeal: Foods rich in carbohydrates are a favourite with most of us and while they do cause weight gain, don’t banish them from your diet just yet. Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal that pack in three or more sugars and a whole lot of fibre. Oatmeal is known to release the calm-inducing hormone serotonin in your body while keeping blood glucose levels in control.
#3 Blueberries: A rich source of Anthocyanins – antioxidants that promote the secretion of dopamine, a chemical required for maintaining good mood besides coordination, and memory function, Blueberries act as excellent natural stress relievers. Research reveals that eating blueberries results in a boost in the number of natural killer cells – white blood cells that play a vital role in building immunity, critical for stress management.
#4 Almonds: Being rich sources of vitamins B2 and E – critical for immune health in times of stress, adding a handful of almonds to your daily intake makes for a great stress management strategy.
#5 Pistachios: Studies have found that eating pistachios boosts vascular health by lowering the constriction of blood vessels during stress. This shields the heart from added pressure, helping the body cope better.
#6 Dark chocolate: If you are one of those who goes from angry to sober as you bite into your favourite dark chocolate, be informed that there’s solid science behind it. Cocoa, found in dark chocolate releases Anandamide – a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. Studies claiming dark chocolate to be the new anti anxiety drug report that people consuming 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily felt calmer than those who did not.
#7 Salmon: Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, Salmon is an excellent stress reducing food as it helps keep the levels of Cortisol and adrenaline under control when you are tense. Omega-3 fatty acids work as natural antidepressants and some studies found a 20% reduction in anxiety among students taking omega-3 supplements.
#8 Green leafy vegetables: Being rich sources of Folate, which helps release mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the blood, leafy greens act as natural stress relievers. Research backs the fact that increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables promotes emotional well-being among healthy young adults.
#9 Asparagus: Naturally rich in Folic acid, an antidepressant, including Asparagus in your daily diet is a sure fire way to beat stress, depression, and negative mood swings.
#10 Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds have one thing in common – they are all rich sources of Magnesium – a known precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin that regulates emotional health. Other rich sources of this wonderful mineral are Avocados, Spinach, and green leafy vegetables. Dr. Carolyn Dean in her book, The Magnesium Miracle details the benefits of this stress reducing super food.
#11 Milk: From babies to elders – a glass of milk before bedtime as a remedy to sound sleep has solid science behind it. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins B2, and B12, and the protein Lactium, milk acts as a natural stress reliever by lowering blood pressure and relieving muscle spasms triggered by stress and tension.
#12 Yogurt: Regular yogurt consumption is linked to better brain function, cognitive awareness, and emotional wellbeing. Rather than buy commercially prepared yogurt, it is better to set it at home using raw milk as probiotics found in fermented products help regulate brain activity.
#13 Oranges: There’s a reason why orange juice finds a place of pride on breakfast tables across the world. Being rich in Vitamin C, oranges lower blood pressure and the stress hormone Cortisol. For a power packed day, pack in a daily dose of this stress reducing super food.
#14 Turkey: Rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that acts as a precursor to serotonin, Turkey is an excellent stress reducing food. Research shows that regular consumption of tryptophan decreases argumentative behaviour and increases agreeable behaviours among people.
#15 Tea: Known as a stimulant for ages, tea contains Theanine—an amino acid that works synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and mental focus while reducing stress. Caffeinated black, green, and oolong tea varieties are known to be the best natural stress relievers.